Thursday, June 29, 2006

dusty memories

And the rain fell down on me, washing away the layers of dust that had covered my skin over the last three days. A new beginning, and an end to something too big and intense to be handled by a single person. What was before and what was coming afterwards didn’t matter, there was only the water coming down and the thousands of people running around looking for shelter, nothing else in this simple moment mattered, we were trying to escape the unavoidable, as if we could stay dry while being underwater, or not damage our ears while breaking wave after wave of music blasting out of larger than life speakers. Swim, swim my friends and enjoy this perfect ending of this great music festival.
I took off my t-shirt and started running across the stage area, through grass fields that an hour ago were full of people laying down, enjoying the end of a hot summer day, listening to whatever band was on the stage, and now it was all one large pool of water, everything was washed away, no memories left, no marks of happy and musical events that took place there. There was this wild smile on my face, the summer torrent was warm and it felt so right being there, soaked and covered stepping in ankle-deep brown water…
...

“Wake up , wake up my friend and get out of this tent, for this is the beginning of your new day. Forget the sadness of what was here before and embrace that new moment, as if it’s your last chance to live and feel. There is no tomorrow and there will be no yesterday, only now, and in this tiny little moment you can make things possible and chose the directions to come. The rain , the rain that took it all away, that washed the layers upon layers of dust that has covered your face, your hands, your feet, your head, your thoughts, your words, your heart, yourself. For every time you try to jump higher than where you are supposed to be , you fall down to the ground again in a cloud of dust that rises as your feet touch down. Do you see it, the crowds of people jumping up and down to the rhythms of unknown music that seems to drive us all across the spaces that usually separate us? You hear it, you feel it, yes you do , it’s there, the stage, the band that plays their last and best gig ever, the lights that flood your eyes , the bass line that you can only feel deep inside your chest, a wave that penetrates all and everything in this great sea of living bodies, and the unheard melody that is the light that guides you all to the shores of tranquility on the other side of the concert. Wake up and think of that rain that came upon you all and washed away the layers of dust that has covered you all , uniting you in one single mass of people, one tribe , one celebration. The great storm that ended the gathering in a most natural way, as that is what happens when we pray upon the gods of thunder and sacrifice our remembered pasts and expected futures, as if there is no tomorrow…”
Clean white sheets, a bit old and yet carefully washed in a medical kind of way, a window with a view of a garden with winter trees and the snowy peaks of Vitosha mountain in the south end of the city, white walls a bit too old and repainted too many times to look clean, and a sense of complete helplessness. I have finally surrendered and given up any ideas that this isn’t actually happening to me and if I can only push myself a bit harder I would be over the top of the hill, enjoying a nice view, looking over the horizon towards a new beginning. Not this time, this isn’t your usual game where things can work out and it’s all just a question of reaching further than you thought you could. This is life, the way it’s out there, where people don’t have the time and money to play my games of survival for adults. It’s a simple fact of life, and death, you take the wrong step and you are out of it all, you die, and there is no one to help you around, as everyone around you is in the same shit and no one who’s outside of it really cares that much. Malaria, it got me, somewhere on the way from the tropical beaches of Inhambane to the dusty savanna of Swaziland I picked a souvenir from Africa, something to remind that life and death there are as real as they can never be here in our snow-white Europe. And slowly the helplessness turns into anger, anger of my bad luck and stupidity not to take those anti malaria pills. I could not accept losing my precious time that I should have dedicated to the long-awaited mountain skiing and similar games for adults and kids. Angry at the plasmodia I sit in the empty room and try not to feel the pain and weakness that has overtaken my body completely. Every few hours it would come back again, and even though I have taken the magic pills that would cure me in a matter of days, I am still far from being saved from the Plasmodium falciparum invasion. Nurse, I have high fever and a terrible headache, could you please give me another one of those shots so that it goes away? Oh, and could you replace the needle of my infusion as it really is starting to hurt badly… and I really need to see that doctor, I want to know when can I be out of here...
And then slowly I began to realize that what I’m going thru isn’t some extraordinarily painful experience, it’s just a softened by magical pills, white sheets, nurses, doctors and glucose infusions version of the real life out there in the place where I just returned from, Africa, Mozambique. People have no pills there, people have no money to buy them, people can’t go to the doctor as there aren’t enough doctors to help them all, people suffer, people die, people have no white sheets and views towards snow-capped mountains in their hospital rooms. My pain and my suffering is nothing compared to what millions of those people have to go through on an almost daily basis. ‘Africans get malaria early in their life, and they kind of develop tolerance towards it, those who live thru childhood of course. Then when they get it again, they just take a day or two off, and come back to work , some of them just go on working anyways.. they are tough’ I remember the words of the doctor that advised us on how to survive Africa before we left a month ago wonder if he ever had malaria, or any idea what he was talking about as matter of fact. So I’m sitting here , thinking how my games of survival and overcoming physical limitations are just the toys of a grown up child that is too bored to accept the boring reality of the place he lives in, people in Africa have real survival on their daily schedule, and there is no fun for them in that game. And the more I think of it and the more my head and body hurt from the malaria fever the more I feel the big question blinking in big red letters in my mind , WHY , why must this happen, why is the world so fucked up, that I could be laying in this bed getting the attention of a whole medical institute dedicated to the treatments of tropical diseases in a country that is 2000 km north of the tropics, whereas millions of people down there can’t afford to pay the 5 dollars the anti-malaria pills cost and have to die? And malaria is just the tip of the iceberg, think of AIDS, think of hunger, think of civil wars and ethnic cleansing…WHY? Is it that they have to suffer so that we live better? Or are we too blind and cruel to actually try to help those who need our help? And who is this God person so many people believe in that would actually design a world where people would have to go through all that pain and suffering ? How is it that so many people keep that faith when they live in a world with no white sheets and nurses? Is this the birth of my compassion towards the suffering of other people, or am I just imagining scenes from movies I have watched ? ( think of Ché and his trip in S.America in that movie). Why do we live in a world of so many lies and fake compassion, which in the end is just a mask for the endless greed and lust for power that drives our society?
Big fucking questions, and no answers, just more glucose transfusion and visits from doctors curious to see a guy with malaria in the middle of the coldest winter we’ve had in a zillion years. And with suffering and anger came a moment of truth that left me with a little less faith in the way things are and aren’t.. as what is the point in doing the things that gave sense to my life until recently if they wouldn’t lead to making the fucked up world that we built up for our white asses a little more fair. I guess the point is that there is no point, things just sort of happen, some of us live, some of us die, some of us are born in better places, and some of us actually get the chance to see the rest of the world and make out for themselves what they want to do about what they’ve seen there. Will I do something about it, or will I just go on playing my games till I am part of the big game anyways ( choose life, choose a future, choose a career…)? I’ve no fucking clue , I just hope the malaria pills didn’t get wasted for nothing and I learned a lesson.
Four days later I was out of the hospital, a day after that I was up in the snow-capped peaks of Vitosha with my skis, trying to ignore the alarms going off all around my body ( you are weak man, you have no energy to be at 2000 m above sea level at -10C skiing). The little flame inside my head that drives me and my desire for life was burning again and I wanted to be out there, making the best of each moment I had been given. The big questions remained though, and as I almost fainted on that last downhill towards the lift taking me home I realized I have indeed reached some limit I could not cross- the thin red line between life and death. It was time for a break and rest.. for a week at least, then I was back in the mountains again and the flames were burning higher, and the memories of the big questions were getting buried in layers of snow and dust…
....
Dusty parking lot in Maputo. Around us – lines of one storey concrete buildings with unknown dusty color and shops in them. Indian shops with tobacco leaves tied on top of the entrance for good luck, selling all kinds of objects one doesn’t need anyway. Dois botellas de coca cola fas favor, diez mil meticais, obrigado, and a sip of coke to wash away the dust and heat from inside my mouth. The great market of Shipamanine , where the whole city comes to shop cheap stuff for their everyday life, where everyone is African, everyone expect me. Carla took me here to see this trully 'african' place..

2 Comments:

Blogger Askinstoo said...

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